"'Losing Marmee' is a memoir with a purpose: to give caregivers a heads-up about the surprises that may be coming their way," states Sweeney. "For instance, no one ever told me that a person could 'graduate' from hospice (other than feet first), or that I might visit my mother one day and find her unable to speak."
Make no mistake, this is not another eldercare manual. Rather, it is a heads-up for people who are caring for someone (or expecting to) and who don't realize the myriad issues that can impact that person's quality of life -- or their own.
"Over the years, I learned to dread the early-morning phone calls that would send my blood pressure skyrocketing,"
Readers will find dozens of valuable "lessons learned" in 'Losing Marmee', woven throughout the true stories that pay tribute to her mother. A Marine officer in World War II, Marmee is every bit as indomitable and self-determined as her namesake in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'. Her bravery and sense of humor permeates the essays that make up this substantial volume.
The book begins with the shocking loss of Sweeney's father, and then follows the ensuing several years of her mother's decline. Peppered with flashbacks to happier times, the pieces vary in length and tone, and are written in the conversational style of a storyteller (with an occasional haiku for good measure).
'Losing Marmee' is also a love story -- one that millions of boomer daughters will recognize. As she devotedly hauls dry cleaned clothes, moist wipes, and "Exactly the Right Kleenex" to her mother's assisted living facility, Sweeney reveals a daughter's determination that her mother's last days will be as clean, safe, and happy as humanly possible.
The best books are those that both entertain and teach, and 'Losing Marmee' delivers that rare blend.
In the words of an Amazon reviewer, "... a no-holds-barred book on eldercare... I can almost feel this story as it unfolds. It convinces me that I know very little about what is ahead for me (and my siblings) when my parents reach the age where they need eldercare."
M. Elizabeth Sweeney is available for media interviews and can be reached by email at losingmarmee@
About the Author:
M. Elizabeth ("Betsy") Sweeney is a native of Northern Virginia who works as a marketing consultant and copywriter. She currently lives in Fairfax with a husband and three cats. "Losing Marmee" is her first book.